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In Frontiers in neurology

Introduction : Acoustic radiation is one of the most important white matter fiber bundles of the human auditory system. However, segmenting the acoustic radiation is challenging due to its small size and proximity to several larger fiber bundles. TractSeg is a method that uses a neural network to segment some of the major fiber bundles in the brain. This study aims to train TractSeg to segment the core of acoustic radiation.

Methods : We propose a methodology to automatically extract the acoustic radiation from human connectome data, which is both of high quality and high resolution. The segmentation masks generated by TractSeg of nearby fiber bundles are used to steer the generation of valid streamlines through tractography. Only streamlines connecting the Heschl's gyrus and the medial geniculate nucleus were considered. These streamlines are then used to create masks of the core of the acoustic radiation that is used to train the neural network of TractSeg. The trained network is used to automatically segment the acoustic radiation from unseen images.

Results : The trained neural network successfully extracted anatomically plausible masks of the core of the acoustic radiation in human connectome data. We also applied the method to a dataset of 17 patients with unilateral congenital ear canal atresia and 17 age- and gender-paired controls acquired in a clinical setting. The method was able to extract 53/68 acoustic radiation in the dataset acquired with clinical settings. In 14/68 cases, the method generated fragments of the acoustic radiation and completely failed in a single case. The performance of the method on patients and controls was similar.

Discussion : In most cases, it is possible to segment the core of the acoustic radiations even in images acquired with clinical settings in a few seconds using a pre-trained neural network.

Siegbahn Malin, Engmér Berglin Cecilia, Moreno Rodrigo


TractSeg, acoustic radiation, deep learning, diffusion MRI, tractography